Take Off the T-Shirt!
By: Karen J.
Co-Publisher, On the Gay
actually wrote that headline quite innocently, because
this is not about what you have all assumed it is. But
once I did realize what I had done, I figured it probably
got your attention so.....
Several months ago, I met some friends for a
long weekend in New York City. One of the highlights was the
AIDS walk. We wore On the Gay Horizon
t-shirts and it was a wonderful experience. In fact, the whole
weekend was great --- but then I made my big mistake.
Foolishly, I let them take those t-shirts
You see, my friends are straight. And they
simply don't get it.
One of them even told me she wore hers to
the grocery store. Now, I love the fact that they want to be
supportive, but you and I know better than to wear that shirt
to Kroger's. Or to walk down the street in it. Or pretty much
wear it anywhere other than around the house.
Years Hasn't Changed That Much
Judy Shepard gets it. Ten years ago this
week, her twenty-one year old son, Matthew, was beaten, tied to
a split rail fence in a remote area of Wyoming and left to die
in the frigid October night. Eighteen unimaginable hours later,
he was found by someone who at first mistook him for a
scarecrow. Five days later he died. Because he was
Although few have received the same
notoriety, thousands of the GLBT community have been attacked
since then. I was thinking about all of that this week. But not
only because it's the ten-year anniversary of Matthew Shepard's
I've also been thinking about it because of
the rage and rhetoric being stirred up by the McCain
Last week in Florida, Sarah Palin's
references to Barrack Obama "pals around with terrorists"
elicited shouts from the crowd of "treason," "terrorist," and
even, "kill him." Right before she spoke in Ft. Myers,
the Lee County sheriff took the stage and whipped up the crowd
by referring to Obama with special emphasis on his middle name,
Since 9/11, the Bush administration has
worked relentlessly to create a climate of fear and "us against
them" in this country. It keeps us distracted from the
administration's failures, while making it appear that their
policies are loudly supported.
But stirring up hate-inspired emotions, for
any reason, is not only despicable but frighteningly dangerous.
It's a genie impossible to control once released from the
Look. We can talk about hate crimes
and the need for appropriate legislation later. What we need
today is to make it clear that we simply will not tolerate that
How do we do that?
With our votes. And in our everyday
conversations --- whether it be to correct gay slurs or racial
epithets. And we do it in our blogs and online
We simply draw the line in the sand and say
...because the alternative is something that
you can see in Michelle Obama's eyes and has had us all holding
our breaths since this particular race began.
[Ed. Note: Want to make a
different kind of statement? Check these out. I'm thinking of
offering to trade them for those t-shirts. Erase Hate
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Reader's Poll: What do
you think about the issue of race in the presidential
election? Do you believe it will play a significant role in the
way people vote? Tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And what about the
"flip side of the race card"?
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The Wrong Side of
gay marriage claim that their opponents will find themselves on
the wrong side of history one day....
Does it matter to us, the
first generation of GLBT baby boomers? No.
When that line in history is finally drawn, it will be too late
for us. No lost rights or property will be restored
don't seem all that concerned with history's judgment.
Proposition 8 teeters on a thin edge of homophobia. Like
the race card in the presidential election.
While it's politically
incorrect to openly express homophobia or racism in this
country, when we get to pull the curtain and vote what's truly
in our hearts .... ah, there's the rub.
Homophobia is alive and
kicking, not just in our pesky opponents, but in our friends as
Think about the straight
folks you know who have you over for dinner and buy you joint
gifts at Christmas and tell everyone that "some of their best
friends are gay." How would they react if you were as
affectionate with your partner in front of their kids as they
are? They might smile through it but......
And who can blame
them? Our own internal homophobia is not yet a
thing of the past. We'll be supporting our therapists for years
to come. Just knowing something is right or wrong is not
enough to undo all that programming.
Which brings us back to
taking care of ourselves. We cannot afford to rely on future
legislation. We must take full advantage of the laws currently
in place. Life can change in a heartbeat. Where do you
stand with your medical and financial directives, will, powers
of attorney, estate planning, life insurance, guardianship
issues, etc? Does a domestic partnership trump a will in
What are you waiting
[Ed. Note - if you are
not sure where to start, take a look at A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay
Couples from Nolo Press]